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Saints shore up ruck department for 2019

Billy Longer has signed a new deal to remain at St Kilda - AFL,St Kilda Saints,Contracts,Billy Longer,Lewis Pierce
Billy Longer has signed a new deal to remain at St Kilda

ST KILDA has locked away its ruck department for 2019, signing up Billy Longer and Lewis Pierce on one-year deals.

Tom Hickey's trade to West Coast increased the need for the Saints to re-sign the duo, who had both been without a contract heading into next season. 

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Longer, 25, played five matches this year as he struggled coming off a limited pre-season.

After carrying a left ankle for some time, surgery in late July ended his 2018 prematurely.

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"I'm really looking forward to another year with the Saints," Longer said.

"It's already been a great off-season for me, as I've been able to address a few lingering injuries. Now I feel better than I have in a long time and I'm just excited to get on the track with the boys and get to work."

In the absence of Longer and Hickey (left hamstring), Pierce lined up for the final three games of the campaign and showed his competitiveness at the level.

"I was given the opportunity to prove myself at AFL level those last few weeks of the season and I am really keen to repay the faith the club has shown in me," Pierce said.

"Billy and I have actually been doing some running sessions together over the past few weeks, so hopefully this drives us to both become better players.

"I'm confident that with another pre-season behind me I'll be able to put my best foot forward and really push my case for more senior football."

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The 23-year-old has played four matches in his career.

"Both Billy and Lew have been regular faces at RSEA Park through the off-season, which has been great to see," list manager James Gallagher said.

"We think this is the perfect opportunity for both guys to take their game to a new level and press their case for the No.1 ruck spot.

"Rowan Marshall also showed a lot of promise last year playing as both a forward and a ruck, so we think we've got a bit of flexibility there."

Former college basketballer Sam Alabakis, 21, was recently signed as a Category B rookie.

At 211cm, he is alongside Fremantle's Aaron Sandilands and Collingwood's Mason Cox as the tallest player to ever be on an AFL list.